Television has evolved into a fantastic platform where the viewing of our favorite shows are no longer at the hands of the network of origin but at the hands of the people. Through the existence of Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and other streaming sites, viewers are able to access all the episodes of almost every season of nearly any television series. We can all catch up with a show that we may have fell behind on, watch that series that we always wanted to or watch that old show that that everyone was obsessed with a couple of years back. The God-like ability to watch whatever, whenever has promoted the popular “binge-watching” habit, or the complete viewing of an entire season or at times an entire show.
With all seasons and episodes at your disposal, the wardrobe to your favorite universe is always open persuading you to immerse yourself in a unique world with lovable characters and compelling stories. We binge to join the conversation on platforms like Reddit, we binge with our friends and family to share our favorite universe with loved ones and we binge simply because Netflix releases entire seasons of original content all at once.
At times the writing of a show is so great and captivating that one can’t get enough of it; picture Mr.Robot. But I didn’t binge the great series of Mr.Robot nor did I for Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I have binge-watched shows and regretted it instantly after. The great feeling of immersing yourself in a unique universe is destroyed within seconds after you finish the finite episodes of your favorite show’s released episodes. Most recently I binged the spin-off series of Legend of Korra (loved it) and instantly compared its first season to Avatar: The Last Airbender’s first season which I loved more. The main reason above few of why I enjoyed Avatar’s first season above Korra’s is simply because I watched Legend of Korra too fast.
The feeling of literally growing up with characters as they progress through a story opposed to watching their journey over 1-3 days is unmatched. Seeing Aang master waterbending over a year opposed to seeing Korra, as amazing as she is, master airbending in a week results in a more emotional connection with the character. And that doesn’t just go for Avatar but for nearly any series, or even movie, you watch.
One can’t go as far as saying as the connection with a character is completely destroyed through binge watching but it does make a great difference. Imagine how different it would be to binge watch all 8 Harry Potter films opposed to actually growing up with Harry as he did through each film, as most of us had. Would you have the same emotional connection?
For some the duration in between the release of projects is the best part of an upcoming season or film. People love speculation, discussing with friends on theories only heightening the viewing experience upon a project’s premiere; its fun to many. Imagine that 3o+ long years after Return of The Jedi we got to know where Han, Leia and Luke journey’s ended up in a galaxy far far away. Compare those years of speculation and months of excitement leading up to Episode 7 to someone who watched it seconds after the credits of Episode 6. The emotional difference is clearly different.
Returning back to the platform of television, it is evident that binge-watching results in entire seasons of a show feeling like a 10+ hour movie. We see this in plenty of Netflix shows such as Daredevil where the majority of episodes begin immediately after the cliff-hanger of the preceding episode. As amazing as it may be to find out the result of a jaw dropping moment nearly instantaneously, it isn’t exactly good writing. Like a film in a franchise, each episode of a series should try to serve as its own stand alone project and not rely on the greatness of its successors to consequently increase the greatness of itself.
Personally, I love reflecting on my favorite shows and selecting what were the great standalone episodes that stood out in a season or at times an entire series. Game of Thrones does this so well as it is easy for many to distinguish their favorite episodes with compelling character arcs such as the episodes of “Hardhome” and “The Watcher’s on The Wall”. I believe that the binge watching through said episodes may have resulted in a muddled up story where the events would not be as easy to discern when exactly they happened in the series continuity.
It’s truly up to you to decide how you wish you view your content. Devouring or savoring a series still results in the watching of a show. But I do wish that at times you possibly savor of a great show and preserve its available episodes/seasons. You never know, you may have enjoyed it more.